Snake’s last meal comes back to bite her

A young viper was found dead with a centipede’s head protruding out of the snake’s body. As reported by NBC News, Ljiljana Tomovic, a Serbian herpetologist, was tagging snakes in Macedonia when she made the eye-catching discovery. According to a scientific correspondence recently published in the journal Ecologica Montenegrina, while shorter in length, the 4.8 gram mass of the prey, Scolopendra cingulate, was actually greater than the 4.2 gram female nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes).

The find was made on May 14, 2013 and the scientist reported, “…we cannot dismiss the possibility that the snake had swallowed the centipede alive, and that, paradoxically, the prey has eaten its way through the snake, almost reaching its freedom.” Dissection showed that only the snake’s abdominal wall remained, so the centipede caused damage to the snake’s internal organs either chemically or mechanically. When found, the centipede occupied the entire volume of the viper’s body.

The viper and centipede were found on the island of Golem Grad, which is also known as “Snake Island.” Tomovic told NBC News that she has never known of a centipede biting its way out of a predator, however, “It’s possible that this situation is not so uncommon, just we did not have opportunity to see it until now.” As the title of the report indicates, “Two fangs good, a hundred legs better.”

There have been other reports of snakes whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs. In 2005, one of the largest gut busting snake meals was found in Florida’s Everglades National Park. A 13-foot-long Burmese python was found dead after attempting to digest a 6-foot-long American alligator.

Photos and more info: NBC News, Ecologica Montenegrina, National Geographic